A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Posts Tagged ‘Daily Mail’

Mail menopause myths

Posted by apgaylard on March 26, 2009

bigstockphoto_hand_outstretched_with_a_pile__1993865It is no great surprise when the Daily Mail gets it wrong on health (or other scientific) issues.  They have a long and inglorious record in this regard.  A recent article on the menopause continues this fine tradition. 

Neither is it unusual to find therapies of no, and even disproven, worth promoted for the treatment of the symptoms of the menopause.   This topic seems to provide rich pickings for people promoting treatments ranging from the sensible but speculative through to downright outrageous quackery.  The confluence of a condition which potentially affects more than half of the world’s population, self limiting symptoms and the difficulties associated with weighing the risks of HRT make for a potent mix.  The market is large, the media are generally credulous, efficacy is difficult to establish and there are fears to play on.  In many ways an ideal target for so-called CAM. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Logical Fallacies, Pseudoscience, Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A Bad Day at the Office

Posted by apgaylard on February 14, 2008

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) has upheld the main thrust of my complaint about the coverage of Ecowatts’ so-called Thermal Energy Cell by the Breakfast programme.   Just in case you have a life and have not been following this saga, here’s the story so far.

A small UK company called Ecowatts has been hawking around a magic water heater that they claim gives out more (heat) energy than it consumes (electricity). 

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Something Else That Doesn’t Add Up

Posted by apgaylard on December 30, 2007

Ben Goldacre’s review of his 2007 ‘Bad Science’ stories prompted me to check up on Ecowatts and their preposterous Thermal Energy Cell (TEC).  The claims made for this device range from violating the first law of thermodynamics to tapping in to an unknown source of energy within hydrogen atoms.  Either way, if true, someone should be booking flights to Stockholm.

Checking their website they have a terse press release responding to the ‘Bad Science’ coverage.  In part it says “…In July 2007, the power input measurements of the technology which was the subject of the Mail on Sunday article and BBC report, were verified by the National Physical Laboratory funded under a grant from the then Department of Trade and Industry…”

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Posted in Impossibe Machines | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Something Else That Doesn’t Add Up

The BBC Is Not as Good as the Newspapers – The BBC

Posted by apgaylard on October 30, 2007

I had a very polite reply from the BBC about my complaint concerning the blatant plugging of Ecowatts‘ “Thermal Energy Cell” on BBC One’s Breakfast News.   

This is a device that is sometimes described as breaking the first law of thermodynamics; at other times it’s just tapping into a new source of energy previously unknown to science.  Either way, if true, it would be time to break out the Nobel Prizes and redraft the text books.

You’d think that was unlikely?  Well, yes very; unless you are Ecowatts or the BBC.

In this post I provide a commentary on the salient points that I’ve sent to the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU).  The BBC’s reply to my initial complaint is shown in bold.

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Posted in Ecowatts' Thermal Energy Cell | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

See The Light

Posted by apgaylard on October 27, 2007

Yesterday the BBC, in what used to pass for a news programme, ran a piece entitled “Worries over ‘winter blues’“.  Aside from trivialising a very real and distressing condition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it was nothing more than a sales pitch for a dubious “medical” treatment.

The sales pitch was provided by Pauline Allen of the Sound Learning Centre.  This seems to be a private clinic of sorts working out of a converted terraced villa in London.  Pauline Allen is its principal.  The information provided on their website on her “qualifications” is illuminating.  She has no medical qualifications.  Everything mentioned is training in specific therapies, not a recognised qualification among them.  Some of the therapies are also definitely nonsense (Brain Gym, for one). There are also lots of mentions of the trainers by names, invoking their special authority.  This information does not by itself mean that their SAD therapy is useless.  But there are sufficient signs to put a sensible person on guard.

Now to the therapy: it is called “Lightwave Stimulation” (LWS).  It also goes by other names: Downing Technique, Lumatron therapy, Ocular light therapy, Photron therapy.

This was introduced by the journalist, Richard Westcott.  He said, of SAD sufferers: “… For many this is the answer, test what light you are missing and give a colour top-up (dim red light shown) the extra light triggers the hormones that can make you happy …”

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Posted in Lightwave Stimulation, Pseudoscience | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Promoting The Impossible

Posted by apgaylard on October 19, 2007

It would seem that it’s not just newspapers that are prepared to believe whatever wild claims are made by purveyors of whacky technology.  BBC One’s Breakfast News carried a piece about Ecowatts‘ “Thermal Energy Cell“.  It comprised an interview with Ecowatts’ CEO Paul Calver.

To say that this was gentle would be an understatement.  There was absolutely no testing of his claims or remotely challenging questions.  You can see the piece on Ecowatts’ website.

Just compare some of the following statements, made by Mr Calver with what was already in the public domain; thanks to some very credulous reporting in the Daily Mail two days previously and a better article in the Daily Telegraph in 2003.

“… we have had this very carefully checked by a number of key universities to ensure that our measurements are right and our observations are correct…”

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Not Funding The Impossible

Posted by apgaylard on October 19, 2007

I recently commented on the Daily Mail‘s coverage of Ecowatts‘ “Thermal Energy Cell“.  This device was said to violate almost “…every known law of physics ...” and to produce “…150 to 200 per cent more energy …” than is put in without much difficulty.  Nice.  Nobel Prizes to follow in due course then?

Aside from the small matter of the sleight against the first law of thermodynamics, one of the comments in the article that concerned me was: “…The project, which has cost the company £1.4million, has the backing of the Department of Trade and Industry, which is keen to help poorer families without traditional central heating or who cannot afford rocketing fuel bills …”

Now if people want to waste their own money tilting at the first law of thermodynamics, that’s up to them.  However, I do mind if my money (via taxation) is funding their quixotic fantasy.  So, I put in a request to the DTI, under the Freedom of Information Act, (FOIA) for details of the alleged “backing“.

This is what I have been told (Letter dated 15th October 2007):

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The Impossible Dream

Posted by apgaylard on September 25, 2007

Recently the Daily Mail reported on a device, Ecowatts’ “Thermal Cell”, which “… violates almost every known law of physics.”  Basically it’s a water heater powered by an electrolysis cell. 

What laws of physics are allegedly violated?  Well, the article states that the electrochemical reaction “… releases an incredible amount of energy compared to that put in …” and Jim Lyons from the University of York is quoted as saying “…we were getting 150 to 200 per cent more energy out than we put in, without trying too hard ..”

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Posted in Ecowatts' Thermal Energy Cell | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »